The skinny: Oh, Missoula. You still know how to throw a kegger. Caras Park was awash in craft beer last Saturday — sometimes literally — as hundreds flocked to the 26th annual Garden City BrewFest. What a beer-crazed lot of primates we are, enduring the harsh jabs of strange elbows all in the name of honey weizen, black gose and Northwest IPA. Even Sen. Jon Tester charged into the fray, showing he’s as big a fan of taps as he is of playing “Taps.” And when the party ended, 11 brews left with honors bestowed by judges from the local homebrew club Zoo City Zymurgists. Here’s a look at the hometown winners, and one from farther afield, all worth tasting.
Merliner Weisse: A hazy golden beer beneath a head of fluffy white foam, this speciality from Big Sky Brewing won Best Belgian/Sour. It’s crisp and wheaty, with a subtle sourness. You can still get it in the taproom while supplies last, at 5417 Trumpeter Way.
Lemon Meringue Sour: Draught Works released this summery brew in its taproom on May 3 and just two days later, judges named it the Best Fruit Beer at BrewFest. The Lemon Meringue Sour is less, well, sour than its seasonal sister, the Blood Orange Gose. But it hits many of the same notes — light, zesty, refreshing — with an added lemony kick. Consider it a don’t-miss deck beer at 915 Toole Ave.
Rupture Fresh Ground Ale: OK, this one ain’t local, but it was one of the brews that wowed the Indy’s panel of beer-tasting experts in our recent BrewFest issue feature. Rupture wowed the BrewFest judges too, winning the Best American Ale category and claiming a runner-up spot for Best of Show. It’s from Odell Brewing in Fort Collins, Colorado, and it’s currently on tap at the Dram Shop, 229 E. Front St.
Americano Coffee Mild: Finally, we get to the top of the heap: the Best of Show at BrewFest. That distinction went to the coffee-infused mild ale from Missoula Brewing Company. It also won Best Brown/Porter/Stout. So if you’re looking for a darker, maltier session beer in the coming weeks, head to 200 International Dr. and give it a try.